Shelf Life of
Candy Canes

How Long Do Candy Canes Last?

Candy Canes

How long do Candy Canes Last? Do candy canes expire? How long does hard candy last? The shelf life of candy canes and other hard candy depends on the best before date and how the candy is stored. Candy Canes, a sweet usually red & white colored curved stick, are most visible at Christmas but variations can be found at other times.  You will also notice their small circle cousins at the hostess stand of your favorite restaurant all year round. Candy canes are made of mostly sugar, which is a preservative.
So, how long do candy canes last? 

When properly stored, unopened Candy Canes last for the time periods indicated in the table below:

(Unopened) Past Printed Date
Candy Canes last for  2-3 Years
Candy Starlets last for 2-3 Years
Christmas Hard Candy (NOT individually wrapped) lasts for 4-5 Weeks
Individually wrapped Hard Candy (Lifesavers,etc.) lasts for 1-2 Years
Gobstoppers lasts for Indefinite
Fireballs last for Indefinite



Of course, candy canes will last for a shorter period of time if it is not stored properly. But, like many other products, candy canes may have a sell by date or use by date which is simply the last date by which a manufacturer will vouch for a product’s quality, not its safety.  Because of this distinction, you may safely eat your candy cane after the use by date has expired. Packages can be found on the store shelf for just pennies after Christmas – pick some up this year and hang them on your tree next Christmas – they’ll still be good. And if you see some gobstoppers or fireballs in the clearance be sure to pick them as they will probably last your lifetime.

How to tell if Candy Canes are bad, rotten or spoiled?

Beyond saving money, practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent food borne illness. Do candy canes expire? They become softer and less desirable over time. You can’t tell how old a candy cane is just by looking, this is one you really have to sink you teeth into… the best way to tell if a candy cane is good is to try and bit it! If your teeth sink in, the candy cane is not at it’s best – it will not be harmful but you will have to chew it instead of traditional licking. A better alternative, if you have strong fingernails, is to try sticking your fingernail into the cane – if you leave an impression, you are also better off leaving the candy cane. There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled candy canes, so always remember to practice food safety and eat your candy canes prior to their expiration.

How to store candy canes to extend their shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of candy canes. Store candy canes in a cool, dry place at a constant temperature. If you should stick them in the basement for next years tree, be sure and place them into a plastic container first. Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

Interesting facts about the shelf life of Candy Canes.

During the course of our expiration date research we can across some interesting facts about the shelf life of candy canes.  Some of the most helpful items are highlighted below.

    • Candy Canes were originally produced in only white.
    • In the United States, December 26th is National Candy Cane Day!

How long are candy canes good for when prepared in a dish?

How long do candy canes last? That depends. How long does chocolate last? In general, candy canes lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient it is mixed with. To find out how long those other ingredients are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

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What are our shelf life resources?

Our content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scour the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of candy canes.

*An important note about the expiration date of Candy Canes …

Although the candy cane shelf life information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, it is an opinion and not intended to substitute for the advice of your qualified health care provider.  Please eat responsibly.